Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

Apifera Farm is a registered 501 [c][3]. #EIN# 82-2236486

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©Katherine Dunn.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

November art sale

{This piece just sold, fyi}

I have an art sale up on the shop through November. Lots of doodles, but also I am working on some new things and some will end up there, so check in on it from time to time if you are interested.

 I also have new pieces up in the other sections and, again, am back in studio, focusing!

Friday, October 29, 2021

Pickles learns about Here, There & Everywhere

{I write a monthly Tails & Tales column for the local paper. This was this month's.}

“Goodbyes are hard, I don’t like them,” said young Hannah, the tiniest goat.

“Goodbyes hurt, so listen for the “hellos” that come your way,” said Auntie Bea, an old goat. “They help.”

We’d just found out that White Dog had bone cancer, with an estimate of a few months to live.

“He talks to the coyotes and tells them to stay away,” said Ollie the goat.

“He saved me from an eagle,” said Marta, one of the bantie hens.

White Dog is a Maremma, a breed that lives amongst the farm animals to protect them from predators.

“Mrs. Dunn, are you going to cry now?” asked Hannah the goat.

“I think so,” I said. “Every day, I see him in the field. And at night I see him as the moon rises. I can’t imagine not seeing him.”

Earnest the pig put his arm around me, and said, “I’ll still be here with you, Mrs. Dunn.”

And then Hannah cried, and Henneth the blind hen cried and that started all the hens crying, and soon all the goats were crying too. All that crying made White Dog come to the fence line to see what was happening.

“Are you okay?” asked White Dog.

“We’re sad because you have to leave us. Don’t go,” said Ollie the goat.

“Please stay,” said Pickles.

“It’s not up to me, or you. My body can’t keep up, so I have to let it go,” said White Dog.

“Where will you go?” asked Pickles.

“I will go everywhere, so I will still be over and around you,” said White Dog.

“Like the worms and dirt under our feet?” asked little Puddles the goat.

“Like the clouds?” asked little Hannah.

“Yes, exactly like that,” answered White Dog, stoically.

“That’s where Opie went!” said Pickles.

Earnest the pig got close to White Dog, and whispered to him,

“I’m sorry my tusks hurt you, White Dog. It was a misunderstanding,” said Earnest, referring to a run in over apples some months ago.

“It’s okay, the doctor stitched me up nicely,” said White Dog.

White Dog started to walk back to his tree as dusk and then the dark took hold.

“White Dog!” Pickles called out. “How will we know when you’re ready to go to the clouds?”

“I’m ready to go anytime,” he said, “But I’m waiting for you to understand I’m going to a place that’s here, there and everywhere.”

Pickles and Earnest walked together. “A place that is here, there and everywhere. It sounds really big,” Pickles said.

“That is why he can’t take his body, he needs to be light, like a feather, so he can ride clouds over the farm, or go anywhere,” the pig said.

Back at the barn, I got everyone settled for the night.

We could hear some coyotes far off in the woods. White Dog barked, and the coyote howls stopped soon after.

“Mrs. Dunn, are you crying again?” Hannah asked.

“Yes, she is,” said Earnest the pig.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

RGB reembodied at Apifera

I was minding my own business...when a phone message came in from a woman I did not know. She politely explained she was moving overseas, downsizing everything in her retirement. She had raised her own food for years and at one point had turkeys. But the mother turkey attacked the hatchlings, and although she tried to save them all, only one survived. That turkey was lovingly cared for by the woman and she made the choice not to put her in the freezer [please, no judgement from anyone here, we all make our choices on what we eat-and as a partial meat eater myself, and someone who has raised her own food to avoid supporting factory farms, I applaud anyone who cares for their animals in life and death].

So the turkey became very friendly and imprinted on the woman. When it came to rehome all her chickens and fowl, she was concerned about RGB, aka Ruthie–she wanted  to find her a forever farm home, and somehow she heard of me.

Now, when I listened to the voice message, I was initially saying 'no' in my mind. I know nothing about turkeys, although I've heard some make nice barn pets. But I have a lot of fowl here and was just getting settled with the two naughty boy ducks [who suddenly have become gentlemen and are living again with the Pekin ducks]. And with White Dog's decline and cancer, I thought he might be upset by a larger fowl.

But then I heard the woman say she even thought Ruthie might be a good animal to take on visits to the elders.

Hmmm...um...sure, I thought.

But after talking to her at length, I felt her sincerity, and I agreed to take on RGB.

And I'm so glad I did. She is a lovely turkey. She has the perfect name as she is no push over, but she is not pushy with anyone and the first night I was worried she'd leave the open windows of the barn, but there she was the next morning. Each morning I arrive and she is usually on a perch in the White Dog barn. She wanders around at will staying close to the animals and barns. I can pick her up at will and hold her. Some nights she gets a bit grumpy [perhaps she is telling me, I am not a baby you don't need to hold me all the time], trying to peck my hand if she is perching. I learned from the woman that turkeys don't lay an egg a day like hens, they lay randomly and when they do they often hide the eggs, and they get a bit broody, and sometimes grumpy with you. I have not seen any eggs but they are very crafty.

I'm just thoroughly enjoying getting to know her and learn her language. She has beautiful pink coloring near her mouth and she is very pretty. Arlo the llama has more of a territorial feelings about her-which in fairness is part of being a llama. So I have Arlo and Teapot residing in the outside barn  versus the inner sanctum. That way Ruth can perch and there is no issue. I have seen her go into Arlo's area there, and she puffs up and stands her ground-but I only worry he might grab her neck. On the other hand, I've seen her in there with The Teapot and Arlo just stays a distance. But I don't want any accidents and in time Arlo will learn her space and his. Captain Sparkle also thought she was a space creature. But now they eat in the same place.

I think the moral here is...being open to new experiences. I was ready to say 'no' based on feeling tired about my current bad boy ducks. But the more I heard and read about too, I thought, I think she is meant to be here. And with the sadness hanging over me with White Dog and his cancer, having a turkey embodying RGB is a nice addition to my day.

The other thing that made me happy is when Ruthie and her former owner came, she was so happy to see the farm here and she just felt so good knowing Ruthie would have a good life and be free to roam in the orchards but have a safe spot at night. I know how hard it is to leave or rehome animals when a big relocation happens-we went through it with my sheep and some other creatures when we left Oregon-it is a heavy job finding homes and feeling you are doing the right thing for animal and human. So I was happy I could somehow lesson her load a bit, and she knows Ruthie is safe and happy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Baby Donkey is up for adoption


Baby Donkey wears the same raggedy baby sweater her mother, and grandmother wore. It has been darned many times. Baby Donkey would like a calm, but sometimes festive home with friends of any species as she has a huge heart-her heart is so full of love it is popping out of her sweater.

Baby Donkey is made of a wooden base, and is very sturdy. She is 16" long from nose to tail and 13" tall. Her hand stitching is of Apifera's own fiber, and silk and cotton thread. She is a one of a kind.


Visit Baby Donkey on the shop and see more photos of her and adopt her >


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Are you shifting?

 I feel like I am in a shifting period but I can't explain to my conscious self what that shift is. I feel unsettled. I think part of it is I have put my heart and soul into the non profit and I feel out of balance with my art and studio time, and 'me' time. I love my non profit work and it does combine creativity and my soul and spirit so is creative in its own way.

But I've been having trouble for a long time now carving out time for art, and with art, for me anyway, I need chuncks of time to ponder, explore in my head with out thinking of everything else I have to do.

I feel I'm shifting into my art raggedy dolls too, frustratingly. I say frustratingly because they take a lot longer to birth than a painting. I am also limited in certain skills like using methods to make them stand as I want and I fumble along.

Then again, I have written and created four more illustrated books since arriving in Maine and I seem to forget that.


Anyway, autumn is full on now, it's pouring out today and I love it. I am determined to keep my November through April more open for me and the studio. I will not abandon my elders at Cove's Edge but am going to focus on them as far as elder visits. I also take care of the business side of things here, completely–the books, taxes, bills, truck and tractor work, repair scheduling, groceries, feed stores, vets, furnace and fireplace, doctor appointments. It's amazing how much time is eaten away with that. I think of my mother-and all mothers-who had kids to haul around and how they said their day felt like it was in a car. Mine is often at the computer.

Anyway, the shifting thing. I think in my life there are clear, distinct shifts that have happened. They seem to happen overnight but I think I  gather information in my head for months, years even, and then one day wake up and say to myself, "I'm moving to Maine," or "I'm going to make books now." And I feel my spirit guides want me to shift, but I keep false starting into it. Maybe I'm afraid of losing what I have. But if I look back on any shift I've made, it always brought more abundance into my life.

Or maybe I just need more cat naps, something I've started on a rather regular basis.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

A llama is born

I started out to make a Harry, but Birdie's spirit took over. That's just like her, and just like Harry not to mind. Available through the shop >

Friday, October 08, 2021

"It made me feel like I was home again," she said

Yesterday we had another special visit from Cove's Edge including Linda, who is blind and has many health issues, and Pat the Cat [we have dubbed her this as she adores cats and had a house full at one time].

These smaller visits are really what I love, as they allow more intimacy with the elders, and me, and the animals. I was so touched because before they left, Linda called me over and held my hand [touch is very important for her] and handed me a card. She told me, in tears, that the last visit with Biggs and The Teapot meant so much to her and it helped her spirits for days. I read her card later and in part it said,

"The horses and the dog made me feel like I was home again after years. It lifted my spirits for days and I'll always cherish that visit. I enjoyed myself for the first time in a very long time."

This of course is why we do this, to lift them up, to give them something outside of the confinement and lack of independence they are faced with at the residence. As we had our visit, there was a lawn mower in the distance, and geese flying overhead. I realized at the residence they never hear these things, things we all hear and take for granted, and a lawn mower might be considered an annoyance, but to those in the home, it is a reminder of their old life. It must be a continual bittersweet sensation when they think of home.

Pat the Cat at one point said..."So peaceful." I commented that at the residence it is very hard to find a spot of one's own to just sit, and be alone in peace and quiet. She agreed. Pat the Cat is a friendly, nice woman but we all need, and some of us more than others, our time alone to just be with our thoughts.

Such simple things we often take for granted. My work with the elders has enriched my life in many ways-giving me a sense of purpose, but also, it has cemented my simple need to just enjoy what I have, and I do. Sure, I have off days, but today for example I was walking to the end of our property to put up 'No Hunting' signs that had fallen, and I was looking at the fallen leaves. So many colors dotting the ground, they crunched and smelled so good. Imagine being born and the first thing you witness is the pretty colors of falling leaves. I've always enjoyed nature, and good food too, but now, I relish in them. I love taste and smells and the comfort of good home made food. I do not lack, and I do not have a need to want to dine out. I am a content homebody. It could all be gone someday, my life as it is, and my elder work shows me that. Rather than be depressed of that possibility in the future, I shake it off and relish in the moment. 

I am glad I can help them, I wish I could give them their homes again but I can't. 

I was happy White Dog partook in the day too. He had a sore morning, I could tell, and he dd not come out of the barn all morning after chores. I did not want to force him. But right about when they were due to arrive, he perked up and insisted on coming to the gate and he waited. It's like he knew they were coming. Knowing him as I do, I don't doubt he knew they were coming to visit. So in he came. What a healer he is, but of course, now with his bone cancer, these meetings take on a double meaning, a stoic one, a heartfelt and bittersweet one....but I'm so glad he can have this in his final days or weeks.


Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Beautiful old Calla

She wasn't acting herself last night when I found her alone in the barn, bathed in sunset light. Usually she and her daughter Sylvia Pettini stay together. Her body condition is good and her eyes show good pink color. She might have eaten something, too many apples maybe. But I will watch her, she is eating so maybe she just felt like warming her bones and being alone.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Winter prep, hay in, White Dog love and the book arrived

 That title says it all. I have been so busy and unable to even focus on anything but the farm. Getting winter ready is always a series of tasks any wheere, but especially on the farm-electric buckets, inspecting the fire stoves, equine coats ready, getting the hay in and firewood. We were so behind becasue of the hot, humid summer we added to our firewood by buying one cord. It felt like sacriledge but sometimes you do what you do. We usually do 4 cords or less [we have furnace heat but keep it at 62].

And thanks to the generosity of Martyn's boss, he had the crew come over one afternoon and we got the 12 tons of hay in. Phew. That was a huge load off my mind. I crashed that night and even though I knew how much worry it was causing me, I really knew after it was all stacked. We could have done it on our own, but...it would have been so hard and taken us 4 separate weekends most likely. I can't toss the bales up high anymore due to my shoulders. Thank goodness I didn't need  to get our usual 17 tons since we are starting later this year to give hay. I have to say, it is such tiny hay bales, they are compressed Canadian, very consistent and better protein. So far everyone is eating it even though there is some stem left but nothing horrible. It cost more by about $2.75 a bale, but if it is higher protein I might try to do half and half next year. But getting the one ton pallets here is a task. I don't think its fair to rely on the crew each year. They did it pro bono for us, which was so helpful and generous but I can't expect that.

Anyway, we got so much done this weekend. Little jobs that mean a lot-like getting kindling cut, getting debris out of fields from past jobs, securing some fence issues, and on and on.

And...the book arrived! Friday afternoon. And it is beautiful. The shipping fiasco-they could not find the pallet in the route from customs-was all because of lack of employees and the mess the world is in all over with Covid. So, I will be getting those out to buyers next week.

Mainly, I want more creative time. It seems like my September was full of so many appointments. And now October is looking like that too-truck fixes, over due doctor stuff, many, many vet visits...I am frustrated by the lack of studio time, but I have to say, I think maybe I needed to be away for awhile from it, I don't know. I just started a raggedy creature and this week despite more appointments I hope to have time for it. I'm percolating things in my mind too as I work.

We also had two vet needs arise in two days-Jonathan the elder cat had what might have been blockage but thankfully it was not and meds helped him. It means going back to all urinary cat food, which I always used before but the then-residents of the elder suite just stopped eating it after years. But now I will go back to it soley. And then I had to have the vet out for old Matilda and her chronic lameness. I had searched for an abscess over the past weeks but found none so wanted an x-ray done which we did. But the vet did fine the abscess which had popped. At least I was looking at the right spot but never found tenderness, maybe I wasn't pushing hard enough. Since it was on the bottom of foot we have her wrapped in a boot. She got instant relief I think. We took a blood panel just to have. And I have her up to 5# of supplement versus the paltry 1# what would eat before we learned her levels had changed and we changed her medicine. She is eating much better now.

Such a mundane boring post! But I have been enjoying getting tasks on my list done. Feels good to get prepped for winter. I hope we have lots of snow this year!